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D.I.Y. Kitchen: Energy Nuggets

May 14, 2012

pina-colada energy nuggets

almond-joy energy nuggets

Last week, prepping for camping, I asked Col what meals we should pack.

“Um, beans, tortillas, noodles, bread, apples, carrots, peanut butter and…” he stopped, shrugged and said “lets just pick acorns and Daddy can shoot a squirrel.”*

I know what he’s talking about. All this shopping and cooking and swiping peanut butter across bread; all this cheering the kids on to eat vegetables, and then sliding the dregs of those uneaten vegetables into the bucket of chicken scraps; all this washing of breakfast dishes while the kids are already lobbying for a morning snack. Sometimes it seems our life occurs in the brief recesses between eating, or maybe our life is the eating.

Last week the kids and I made a couple gallons of granola and it was so beautiful and satisfying to look at that when everyone tore into it, I caught myself thinking–in a Eeyore-ish way–“Oh, now everyone’s just going to eat it?”

I don’t recall any parenting books mentioning the sheer number of snacks kids require. It’s like day trading on Wall Street, getting a group of kids together at the park with their snacks. We just returned from a wonderful camping trip with four families and every time a parent brought out a new snack it was like feeding frenzy at the fish hatchery with every child edging closer, circling a container of strawberries.

Col and Rose love these energy nuggets, they really do, but I won’t lie and pretend they wouldn’t love them ten times more if they came in a wrapper. I’m the worst at making food appealing for kids. If I can’t find the gumption to shave my legs, it’s unlikely I’ll ever be shaping carrots into flowers. I’ve been known to pack a jar of peanut butter and honey with three spoons and head out to the park because sometimes it’s just about cramming the kids with calories so they can go play and we can stop talking about food.

But these energy nuggets are so good, and crazy-healthy. Dates, almonds, walnuts, coconut, chocolate, pineapple and apricots are all listed in the book, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, and those are the ingredients I use, although you could swap many things in or out.

Energy Nuggets


makes 20-25

1/2 cup pitted dates

1/2 cup dried pineapple (cut and soaked in water for 10 minutes to soften)

3/4 cup nuts (I use walnuts or almond meal; any nut/seed combo would work)

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

*almond joy*

makes 20-25

1 1/2 cup dates, pitted

1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

1/2 cup dried apricots

1/2 cup nuts

1/2 cup powdered dark, unsweetened chocolate

Mix in food processor (try half batches first to see what your food processor can handle). Shape into balls.

* if your mixture is too dry to shape, add extra dates, honey, or the water the pineapples soaked in.

* if your mixture is too moist, add more nuts or shredded coconut.

* we store these in the fridge if we’re going to eat them in the next 1-2 weeks, any longer, store in freezer.

* although these are the only two flavors I’ve made, I’m sure the combinations are endless.

Ingredients! (The ingredients are somewhat pricey, but I think it works out to be about 25 -35 cents per goo ball)

Pitting dates is a good task for a child.

dates, almonds, coconut and pineapple – still a little dry. I’d add more dates here.

*Almond Joy* – which taste just like an almond joy… if you haven’t actually eaten one since 1998.

That’s a good-looking consistency.

Kati’s beautiful, goo-ball shaping hands.

Break for hugs! And yes, Kati *did* cut off her dreads, and looks fabulous.

Nugs in a jar.

*Dan’s never shot a squirrel, but there was this squirrel supper.

*Parenting E-Course winner announced on original post. I hate that I can’t pick everyone, because I can hear how interested everyone is. But, good news: Natalie is offering 10% off the course for any 6512 reader who signs up by Wednesday, May 16th 8pm. Just put “6512” in the message section during check out. Natalie will refund you the 10% after check out. Go here to sign up!

* Linking with Simple Lives Thursday

26 Comments leave one →
  1. stephinie permalink
    May 14, 2012 8:12 am

    yum!!! makes you swoon over bertha a bit huh?

  2. May 14, 2012 8:15 am

    these look fantastic. wonder if there is a way to adapt them for a nut-free house? i’d love to find something healthy full of real food that will sustain us and is easy to take along while we are on the go but we’ve got the nut issue. boo.

    enjoy a few for me!

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 14, 2012 9:45 am

      Amanda, can you guys eat seeds? You could substitute sunflower seeds, sesame seeds (or tahini) and pumpkin seeds for the nuts.

  3. teresa permalink
    May 14, 2012 8:32 am

    yes! these little nuggets of goodness will get us through many summer days i bet! thank you for posting.
    (and i received my hollyhock seeds!! thank you thank you thank you!!)

  4. May 14, 2012 8:48 am

    I have a similar recipe that I adapt. The original was from Savoir Magazine and was called “sugar plums”. It was a Christmas issue. I love that the original was all ingredients found/traded in the middle east. But I make them with prunes instead of apricots sometimes b/c I think a “sugar plum” should have some actual plum in it. Or sub out the almonds with another nut. Original called for rolling in powdered sugar, which a don’t do. Otherwise, same exact process. The orange zest in these is really fabulous. 2 cups whole almonds, 1/4 cup honey, 2 tsp grated orange zest, 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground allspice, 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, 1 cup finely chopped dried apricots, 1 cup finely chopped pitted dates.

    Is it bad that I don’t have kids, and I still think about food most of the time? Grin.

    • May 14, 2012 8:51 am

      That should have read Saveur. Sorry. My French…not so much.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 14, 2012 9:48 am

      Those sound great; love the middle eastern flavors…my kids would love to hate these!

      • May 14, 2012 11:34 am

        Larabars are actually based in similar ingredients, especially the “pie” flavors, which are getting harder to find in my neck of the woods. I’m sure your kids would like Larabars better, b/c they come in that pretty package. Ha. When Rose is 30, you’ll get a phone call asking you for the recipe for these. Oh, and got the seeds!!! Thanks.

  5. May 14, 2012 9:23 am

    You must have read my mind because I was just thinking about these nuggets two days ago and made a note to myself to look for the recipe on your blog. I was sick of store-bought snacks and the granola bars I make so time for something new…and voila!

    The universe likes me :) And I’m pretty sure we’re going to dig these. Yum.

  6. Michele permalink
    May 14, 2012 9:25 am

    I love this post. Kids/veggies, wasting food, snacks v.s. ‘real food’, homemade v.s wrapped up in a pretty package, jar of peanut butter and spoon. Our kids are so similar and I don’t know why it continues to surprise me. I guess b/c I’m in a house in the burbs and you are on the farmstead (homestead?) but in the end kids are just kids and all of us are doing everything we can to keep them healthy and thriving. Can’t wait to try these and see they they pass the test.

  7. May 14, 2012 9:57 am

    go bertha go! mmm going to try pina colada first. yum!

  8. May 14, 2012 10:26 am

    Nugs in a jar. Love it. On it.

  9. May 14, 2012 10:58 am

    I skipped over to the squirrel story – “[N]ow wearing the subtle, but believable veneer of dinner”… I grew up partly at the edge of butchering tables and this captures so well the transformation from honored petting zoo resident to cutlet.

    We pack veggies for our daughter’s lunch every day, which she faithfully carries home entirely intact. She wants a snack before dinner and gets… lunch veggies. Often. I have been known to withhold buttered noodles altogether until lunch veggies have been given proper respeck.

    Re: packaging kid food – Do they want to design their own packaging from freezer paper and tape, and markers? So even though it would be landfill bound, it would at least get use as a craft project/child attention and time sucker? Prolly not, huh.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 14, 2012 3:57 pm

      Hmmm…maybe you’re onto something. Col and Rose could do a guest post: DIY wrapping! It’s something about always wanting what you don’t have. Some of Col and Rose’s friends on the camping trip, whose mother does not bake, were wild over the peach bread I made, which Col and Rose were lukewarm about. I kept mentioning to Col and Rose, “Hazel and June loooove my peach bread.”

      Also, I believe in feeding leftover lunch veggies for snack, because as Dan often tells the kids, “hunger is the best sauce.”

  10. May 14, 2012 2:45 pm

    These look really good! I’m going to try making them and see what my kids think.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 14, 2012 5:01 pm

      Let me know how they like them!

  11. Emily permalink
    May 14, 2012 3:26 pm

    We make some kinda like these (cranberries, apricots, cashews, lemon zest, ginger), but we press them into a rectangular container (might be a Chinese takeout container actually), and take them hiking with us. I’m thinking the pineapple and coconut might go over well.

    I got my SEEDS! …and permission to dig up another ten square feet or so of lawn! woot!

  12. May 14, 2012 5:52 pm

    I see Amanda is in the same boat as me… I started out reading the recipe with “Oh Yes!” but soon turned to “Oh No!” as I’m allergic to everything in the recipe except chocolate and (I think) coconut.

    How convenient. Will just have to have some chocolate instead. Tee-hee.

  13. May 14, 2012 10:00 pm

    Peanut butter, honey and spoons–*so true* sometimes. Thanks for the recipe–we’ll try it soon! As for squirrels, I ate them early on in my game-eating career (hubby’s from Appalachia, what can I say?) and even hunted them myself. My father-in-law is particularly fond of cracking a cooked head like a walnut and eating the brains (I, however, am not such a fan). I’ve bookmarked your squirrel essay for a future date with more reading time : )

  14. May 16, 2012 4:43 pm

    I can’t wait for tomorrow. Betty asked if we could cook something like a granola bar to pack in her lunch for the next week. Pina-colada is perfect for her. I’ll try popping them in the freezer for a cool, lunchbox treat. Seriously, lots of recipes are found on the internet but each time I try yours, it’s as if I’ve stumbled upon something that’ll instantly become a tradition. It seems we get stuck in a rut with always the same snacks, so thanks for inspiring us to test the waters to find new favorites.

  15. May 18, 2012 9:38 am

    The goo balls look delish! And the squirrel story is great. It sounds tasty. I live in St. Louis City and see road kill all the time. I wish we could put it to good use, but wouldn’t dare. They eat all kinds of nasty things – rummaging through alley trash cans and what not.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      May 18, 2012 3:39 pm

      Good call to steer clear of the city road kill. But, goo balls get the green light!

  16. November 1, 2012 2:20 pm

    These look similar to the homemade lara bar recipes I’ve seen. We’re always looking for stuff like this to send with my truck driver dad. Thanks for the recipes!

  17. November 7, 2012 12:17 pm

    Mmm – These sound great and I would love to have you share this on Thursday at Tasty Traditions

  18. April 28, 2014 5:09 pm

    Yummy! Didn’t have cocoa powder so I used chocolate chips. Not as healthy but a big improvement compared to how we usually eat.

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